It’s only snow

I have had my two easiest journeys to work this week for many a long year. The Highways authorities did a great job in gritting and salting, so the roads I used were fine. Yesterday Boris sensibly lifted the Congestion Charge so I could drive the whole way, instead of having to park more than a mile away from my work and walk the rest. It was trip down memory lane to a time when we used to be able to travel more easily.

I understand there were problems on the M25 and I am sorry for all who got delayed. I can also understand the anger of many who wanted to get to work by train or bus but who had a miserable time discovering they couldn’t.

I would like to thank the drivers who took the salting and gritting lorries out in the cold, the dark and the dangerous.

Of course I would have been stranded if I was planning to go anywhere by public transport. What have Ministers got to say about that? If we can keep the main roads open, why can’t we keep the train tracks open as well?

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17 Comments

  1. kardinal birkutzki
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    What planet are you on? Yesterday was a national disgrace. Despite repeated warnings that started weeks ago, absolutely no effort was made to even try to keep transport running; no-one even thought of trying to clear arterial roads into the biggest city in western Europe. I got to work and all the self-employed were there on the dot (even if like me they had to struggle by bike for two hours through the snow) and -lo and behold- all the employees were “snowed in”, even if they lived in the same street. The whole day I just kept hearing people bragging about how they’d sneeked a day off work (eg Arriva bus drivers) and would still get paid. Then I went to the English institution of the pub in the evening and witnessed that other English institution – teachers boasting about how they’d had an extra day’s holiday. And we even watched the news with scenes of Parisians enduring the same weather conditions but mysteriously being able to arrive at work virtually trouble free. Bravo les francais; shame om the lazy, incompetent English.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 3, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Like you, I was at my desk from 8am, yet Iain Dale informs me that the DWP were sent home to ‘enjoy the snow!’

      Tory policy number 2 ~ anyone who went home may stay there?

  2. John Redwood
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Of course the failure of the train service and some bus services was dreadful, as I pointed out in my piece.

  3. no one
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    arriving in London yesterday morning at a main line train station I was faced with

    i) no tube
    ii) no taxis
    iii) no buses

    and then they cancelled all the trains going back home, so was stuck there for quite a while, before I was able to get on the very restricted service back to where I came from

    it reminded me of how I feel in an NHS hospital, it just staggers me that the UK is so far behind and so sub standard compared to the rest of the world

  4. kardinal birkutzki
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Point taken: just venting my spleen!
    Please keep up the fine economic commentaries. It’s clear to me that you have been the commentator who saw most clearly what was coming and analysed it most perceptively. It is a shame you cannot have a direct influence on clearing up this dreadful mess…unless, unless, well, who knows??

  5. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know why some London underground services were suspended because of the snow? (Yes, seriously)

    • Emil
      Posted February 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Probably because many London Underground services run above ground.

      Also Dale’s story about DWP is a load of rubbish, many jobcentres closed a couple of hours early yesterday and today , with every signer attempted to be called and interviewed over the phone. This was nothing to do with “enjoying the snow” but, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted February 4, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        No, you are missing my point. Whilst I can understand why some highland train lines with fifty miles of track in the harsh open countryside may have issues with weather, by it’s very nature, the underground is metropolitan and can therefore only have a few miles of track at most exposed to the elements and that in developed areas which will anyway be warmer than the countryside, as well as having jusr a small area to clear of snow.

        As for Dale’s story, I wonder if you are perhaps paying too much credence of the possibly dodgy press release saying basically “We tried to phone everyone guv, honest” but hey why let critical thinking get in the way of blind acceptance of what you are told.

        • Jacob
          Posted February 4, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          “the underground is metropolitan and can therefore only have a few miles of track at most exposed to the elements”

          I think I remember reading that a surprising proportion of the LU is above ground. Something like one fifth.

  6. Brigham
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    John,
    You ask what ministers have to say. You know don’t you. “Lessons will be learned.” and then back to sleep.

  7. a-tracy
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    My colleagues got around all day on the arterial roads. Every single one of them from West Yorkshire to Hampshire turned in to work, we delivered to Inverness, Portsmouth and all points in between including Bodmin. We arrived in Surrey and the company was closed, we arrived at Bluewater and the place was like a scene from ‘Survivor’.

  8. rugfish
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The BBC must be frozen in, because they are constantly repeating snow, snow, snow and there’s snow other news !!

    Snow Obama, snow strikers, snow French protests and snow what’s Brown doing these days, just SNOW !!

    The weather forecast was completely wrong for the North East too. What a waste of time and money me putting the central heating up and buying a load of grit and salt yesterday. The weather here is SUNNY. Yet all I get on the Brr BBC is SNOW.

    It’s quite alarmingly WARM where I am in Durham at the moment. Snow much snow, that I’m beginning to think we’ve been cut off geographically as well as politically from Westminster.

    I think there’s snow way the BBC can have any reporters working today.

    • Acorn
      Posted February 3, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      rugfish; if you have any spare road grit, would you please send it to Southamptom. They ran out of it Sunday night.

  9. a-tracy
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Do London Councils have any gritters that can be turned into snow ploughs at all? Do they have snow blowers? Do they have an obligation to keep primary routes open e.g. those A roads to the local A&E? I understand that there perhaps aren’t as many as they have in the Highlands but surely they do have gritters that can be turned into Ploughs at low cost?

  10. "East Anglian Troy"
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Well said John! I think the forecasters gave the impression that it would be a lot worse than it was. Having said that, they also get criticised when they underestimate it!

  11. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted February 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    The younger generations are getting more and more risk-averse as (paradoxically) their physical safety is better than ever. There is a huge retreat into ‘group think’ where judgements are made by committee, or by on-line polls, or ringing around all your friends.

    I’ve seen it in schools where the headteacher rings around key staff before deciding whether or not to open – all very sensible, but group consensus causes over-cautious risk averse behaviour.

    A few policy guidelines made when the weather is fine (e.g. we will open whatever the weather as long as one teacher/engineer/sales assistant can get in), and a nominated individual empowered to make the call for the organisation, would work wonders. A firm line with employees who don’t even try to get in would help too.

  12. Anton Howes
    Posted February 4, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Dear John,

    You weren’t avoiding criticising your Mayor Boris were you?

    No, you couldn’t possibly have been – open and honest, with no spinning – that’s the Conservative Party.

    Note the well-meaning hint of sarcasm 😛

    Reply: Boris did well to lift the Congestion Charge. I await events to see why the buses did not run, as there was a general problem with trains and buses both in and outside London. Westminster did a good job clearing the roads.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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